November 2, 2013
(CNN) -- Things are looking horrible for President Barack Obama. There's the Obamacare website fiasco. Ongoing of National Security Agency spying on European leaders. There was the government shutdown that on his watch. And a new finds Obama with his lowest approval rating -- and his highest disapproval rating -- ever.
If this were a movie, we would be at the part where the hero finds himself surrounded. He has no escape routes and he's outgunned. What will happen next: Will our hero prevail like John McClane in "Die Hard," or will he fail like William Wallace in "Braveheart"?
Well, the good news for Obama is that the script for the final scenes of his presidency has not been written yet. The bad news is that he may not be the one writing it.
Simply put: Obama is not the protagonist driving his own story. Rather, his storyline is being dictated by others. No question, he has long had trouble controlling the narrative, with a GOP bent on denying him, basically, everything he wants. But now he's heading toward the end of his final term -- and the clock is ticking on his agenda.
(CNN) -- U.S. presidents should not be sworn into office with their hand on a Bible.
At Monday's inauguration of his second term, President Barack Obama will raise his right hand and place his left on not one, but two Bibles: One owned by Abraham Lincoln and the other by Martin Luther King Jr.
The Constitution requires he give this oath of office: "I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States."
You might recall that at his 2009 inauguration, President-elect Obama and Chief Justice John Roberts played some kind of "mad libs" with this oath during the swearing-in ceremony, muddling it so badly that they had to redo it a few days later. But why does the president swear on a Bible? Why doesn't he place his hand on the U.S. Constitution -- the very document he's promising to "preserve, protect and defend"?
The Constitution does not require that the president take the oath of office by swearing on a Bible. That would have been a very simple requirement for the constitutional drafters to include. To the contrary, the Founders wanted to ensure that Americans of any faith -- or no faith -- could hold federal office.
They set it forth plainly in Article VI: "... No religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States."
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Sociopath: a person who has “no social conscience.” We often hear this term used to describe criminals who commit heinous acts but show no signs of remorse. These people lack the ability to discern between right and wrong.
Look, I’m in no way saying that Mitt Romney is a sociopath in the sense it’s applied to serial killers. But Mitt Romney might just be a new strain of this malady: a “political sociopath.” How else do you explain how Romney can change positions so frequently on key issues with no sense of remorse or guilt?
Or does Mitt have a split personality, sorta of a “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Romney”? Or is it “Dr. Mitt and Mr. Hyde”? In either case, is it possible there are two Mitt Romneys. And like in the famous Jekyll and Hyde tale, it seems that one has no memory of what the other has said or done.
I’m not even referring to Romney’s earlier “evolution” on issues from years ago which gave us "Romney 2.0." By now most are familiar with these Olympic quality flips: Mitt being unabashedly pro-choice when Governor of Massachusetts, but a few years later when seeking the Republican presidential nomination, he suddenly become a hardcore pro-lifer. Or his reversal on gun control: when Governor, he signed into law a ban on assault weapons but now opposes similar gun control measures. And, of course, his championing a health care plan that was the first in nation to impose an individual mandate but now opposing that very same element of Obamacare.
No, I’m talking about Romney 3.0. This Mitt seems to have no recollection of his prior statements made just a few short months ago. For example, when Mitt Romney was the scary Mr. Hyde, he tried to appeal to conservative voters in the Republican primary by promising a tax break for, “…everyone across the country by 20 percent, including the top 1 percent.”
But in the first presidential debate with President Obama, that Mr. Hyde was nowhere to be found. Instead we only saw a moderate, reasonable “Dr. Romney,” who now pledged: "I will not reduce the taxes paid by high-income Americans."
Even President Obama sensed there was two Romneys, stating the day after that debate: “When I got onto the stage, I met this very spirited fellow who claimed to be Mitt Romney, but it couldn't have been Mitt Romney." This led Obama to coin his own diagnosis: Romensia.
And Romney’s split personality has become more acute in the closing days of this campaign. For example, Dr. Romney continually claims that when he was Governor, he worked in a bipartisan manner with the Democrats who controlled the Massachusetts Legislature. But what Mitt doesn't tell us is that his Mr. Hyde used his veto over 800 times in a four year period to block Democratic legislative initiatives.
And now Dr. Romney argues that he did not oppose using government funds to help bail out the auto industry. However, Mitt ‘s Mr. Hyde had stated the opposite in a Republican primary debate: “…with regards to the bailout…whether it was by President Bush or by President Obama, it was the wrong way to go….My plan, we would have had a private sector bailout…with the private sector guiding the direction as opposed to what we had with government playing its heavy hand."
And Mitt’s Mr. Hyde – obviously unable to predict that a massive hurricane would strike the Eastern seaboard a week before the election – stated in another Republican primary debate that he would take the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) from the federal government and give it back to the States. The result would be that when a massive disaster occurs impacting more than one State- as they often do-there would be no umbrella organization coordinating the effort.
But now Dr. Romney says he wouldn’t abolish FEMA. Instead, in times of emergency, people should get “help from the federal government and FEMA” in coordinating where disaster assistance is most needed.
And amazingly, Dr. Romney has in the last few days started billing himself as the“change” candidate. It’s just a mater of time before we see a poster of Romney colored in red, white and blue, emblazon on the bottom with the words: “Hope.”
While obviously there are voters who are not fans of President Obama’s polices, at least they know what he stands for. In the case of Mitt Romney, not only don’t we know what his stands for, we don’t know even know which Mitt Romney would serve as President.
(CNN) -- The key to President Barack Obama's triumphant performance in Monday night's debate was not his command of the facts, his well-crafted answers or his cutting comeback lines. It was one thing: the stone cold, laser-like stare Obama shot his opponent when Mitt Romney was answering questions. I call it "Obama-stare" -- but unlike Obamacare, this Obama plan may not be good for your health.
For those, like me, who watch the other candidate closely when his opponent is answering a question, the contrast between Obama and Romney's reactions was like comparing Darth Vader with Honey Boo Boo. Romney's look vacillated between forced smiles to that of a person whose stomach was alarmingly churning and was worried he wouldn't make it to the bathroom in time.
But Obama pinned Romney with the look -- Obama-stare. It's not a look we saw at the previous debates. (Of course, Obama didn't even attend the first one.)
Obama-stare resembles the grimace that Wyatt Earp might have had on his face moments before guns were drawn at the famed gunfight at the OK Corral. Or even Clint Eastwood's classic scowl in his "Dirty Harry" movies just before shooting a bad guy -- not to be confused with the look he recently gave to an empty chair.
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July 28, 2012
Imagine if immediately after the attacks on September 11, 2001, President Bush shrugged his shoulders and told the nation, "There's nothing we can do to stop this kind of horror. If a terrorist wants to hijack a plane and fly it into a building, he's going to do it regardless of what we do or laws we sign."
And yet a week after a domestic terrorist slaughtered innocent men, women and children with an arsenal of military-style assault weapons, our political leadership is once again telling us that there is nothing we can do to stop this kind of gun crime, and that reinstating an assault weapons ban would not help prevent these horrific acts from happening again.
It is not just Aurora. Every year since 2001, according to the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, approximately 30,000 people have been killed by firearms in America. And the reaction to this carnage has been to loosen existing gun laws, and to radically misinterpret the Second Amendment.
The National Rifle Association essentially harbors terrorists, by resisting any attempt to apply sensible regulations on gun use. The NRA wants almost anyone to obtain virtually any kind of gun and unlimited amounts of ammunition. Hunters don't need assault weapons or high capacity ammunition clips to shoot deer. These weapons and the ability to shoot more than 30 rounds at one time are for murdering large numbers of people.
The NRA is a massively funded lobbying group that politicians of both parties bow down to with timidity and fear. When you hear politicians say "the political will isn't there" for stricter gun control, what they're really saying is that they are afraid to stand up to the NRA. That's why the assault weapons ban, and the ban on high capacity clips, was allowed by both parties to expire in 2004. Democrats, like Carolyn McCarthy, who lost her husband in a mass shooting on the Long Island Railroad, and Frank Lautenberg have introduced bills to limit ammunition, but these bills garner little support.
The words that frustrate and infuriate me the most are from those in both parties who say now is not the time to talk about gun violence. After 9/11, if someone had said now is not the time to talk about terrorism, they would rightfully have been considered insane.
The conversation must start from the top. Although President Obama is inexplicably considered by right wing media to be a threat to gun rights, his administration has been given a failing grade by the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence.
The President's speech in Aurora was moving and compassionate, as was his speech last year after another terrorist attack killed men, women and children, and nearly took the life of Congresswoman Giffords. No federal gun legislation was enacted after that attack either.
The President said about Aurora, "If there is anything to take away from this tragedy, it's the reminder that life is very fragile." We are constantly reminded of the fragility of life, because approximately 33 people are killed in America by gun violence every day. What we need to take away from this tragedy is a renewed determination to, at the very least, begin an intense national dialogue on the causes of gun violence, and what steps can be taken to reduce it.
We must stand up to the fatalism, cynicism and ignorance of those who say, "There's nothing we can do. And no law will help." There is much that can be done. And we can demand that the political will be found to get it done. Instead of cowardly running away from the NRA and the issue of gun violence in the U.S., we must bring it up now, and bring it up loudly and forcefully. Those who vote against gun control legislation, or do nothing to promote it, even if they are liberal on other issues, should be challenged by pro gun control candidates.
And even though almost every Obama campaign advisor would tell him otherwise, the President must start the national conversation about gun violence right now. His speech to the National Urban League, where he called for reinstating the assault weapons ban, is a good start.
The American people are listening. And this time, they must hear more than the sounds of silence.
Scott Blakeman is a liberal political comedian and commentator, who appears regularly on FoxNews.com Live. He will perform his one man show "Liberal Jew" at the Lenox Town Hall in Lenox, Massachusetts on August 18, and the Grange Hall on Martha's Vineyard September 1. Twitter: @scottblakeman
Could Mitt Romney be “stupid”?
That’s the question CNN’s Erin Burnett posed on her show this past Monday when discussing Romney’s refusal to release his past income tax returns. Actually, she hypothesized that there were three possible reasons Mitt refused to release them:
“One, he had a lot more money in tax shelters in prior years than he does now."
"Two, he did something shady.”
“Or, three, he's stupid."
Could Mitt’s refusal to release these documents--which are clearly hurting his campaign—be because of stupidity?
Look, there’s no doubt Mitt is very book smart. He earned two graduate degrees from Harvard--an MBA and Law degree-which he received after cramming 5 years of studying into 4 years. Only about 12 people per year achieve this feat at Harvard.
But in the immortal words of “Forrest Gump:” “Stupid is as stupid does.” Which means that even if you have the best education in the world, and are a multi-millionaire, if you do stupid things, you’re stupid. It’s that simple.
Maybe the dictionary can help us decide this issue. Merriam-Webster dictionary.com’s tells us that the most appropriate definition of the word “stupid” is: “Given to unintelligent decisions or acts.”
So, is withholding tax returns an “unintelligent decision” aka "stupid"? It would seem to be when polls indicate that 61% of Independent voters think Romney should release his returns from the last 12 years. (To date, Romney has only released his 2010 returns and an estimate for 2011.)
Add to that, Republican leaders have been increasingly calling for Romney to release these returns, including Congressman Ron Paul, Texas Governor Rick Perry, and Alabama Governor Robert Bentley.
And, add even to that, well-known conservatives in the media such as George Will, Bill Kristol, and “The National Review” have, too, called upon Romney to be more forthcoming and release returns for additional years.
It's true that presidential candidates are not legally mandated to release their tax returns. Yet candidates since FDR have voluntarily released them. These candidates--Democrats and Republicans alike--understood that this is about transparency. We, the people, are entitled to know how our possible future president made their income, how much taxes they have paid as well as to know what and where they have invested.
That is why Mitt Romney’s own father--George Romney--released 12 years of his tax returns when he was seeking the 1968 Republican Presidential nomination. Bob Dole--the Republican presidential nominee in 1996—released 30 years of his past returns, while George W. Bush released nine years and Barack Obama seven.
And when presidential candidates refused to be forthcoming in releasing tax returns, such as in the case of Democratic presidential candidates Michael Dukakis and Bill Clinton, the media hammered them until they were released.
Lets state the obvious to make the stakes clear: Mitt Romney is seeking to be the head of the biggest economy and most lethal military in the world. He will in essence be the leader of the free world and one of the most powerful people on this planet. Thus, we deserve to know as much as possible about him and certainly information regarding facts which are solely within his possession--like his tax returns.
This growing controversy is reminiscent of the one started by the right that President Obama was not born in the United States. These “birthers” kept pressing this issue until it became a distraction to President Obama’s agenda. Consequently, President Obama had no other way to put the issue to rest than to finally release his long form birth certificate in April 2011.
Mitt Romney is obviously aware of both the birther issue and the past “taxer” issues. And just as in those instances, this issue is becoming a distraction to his campaign and an ever-expanding albatross around his neck.
This brings us back to the original question: Could Romney be stupid? Very doubtful. But not releasing his tax returns is stupid. It will plague him through the campaign until Election Day. However, despite this obvious downside, Romney still refuses to release the returns.
To quote another iconic line from "Forest Gump:" “Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're gonna get." Well, only Mitt Romney knows what’s in his income tax returns and he’s certainly fully aware of what he’s “gonna get” in response if he releases them.
It appears that Romney would prefer to be labeled “stupid” than release his past tax returns. Could it be that the consequences of releasing his returns are far worse?
(CNN) Fact: Americans love to curse. We, the people, use profanity every day. Some will deny this reality, but those people are [expletive] kidding themselves.
Cursing is in our movies, TV shows, books and magazines. It's also a big part of our daily conversations -- especially when we get passionate about something.
However, for some bizarre reason, we demand that our elected officials not speak like the rest of us. We condemn them for even the slightest bit of swearing in public.
For example, about a week ago, House Speaker John Boehner was rebuked for using these words when speaking to Republican House members: "Let's call bulls--- bulls---"
President Obama raised more than a few eyebrows when he stated in a 2010 television interview that he wanted to know "whose ass to kick" to get the cleanup of the BP oil spill moving faster.
And Vice President Joe Biden came under fire for saying to President Obama during the signing ceremony of the health care law: "This is a big f---- deal!"
We need to stop being so hypocritical in holding our politicians to a ridiculously prudish standard of communication. If we get worked up about an issue, we wouldn't just use the King's English to explain how we really feel -- we'd be adding some French.
But we have neutered our politicians' intensity and passion by limiting their choice of words. And then we wonder why so many of our elected officials -- and especially our presidential candidates -- seem so bland and hard to relate to.
To continue reading this article, please click HERE for CNN.com.
(CNN) -- America is in trouble. And we know it.
Just look at recent polls: 70% of Americans would describe the nation's economy as bad. Some 61% think our country is on the wrong track. Only 24% of Americans think the economy has actually improved in the past few years. And almost two-thirds of Americans are concerned about being able to pay for their housing.
We could use Captain Economy to help us create jobs. Plus we need Deficit-Reduction Man and Five-Percent-GDP-Growth-a-Year Dude. Or maybe we can just let The Hulk loose in Congress and tell him: "Hulk: Smash!"(I'm not sure how Hulk smashing Congress helps the economy, but I think most of us would pay to see it.)
But, alas, there's no superhero in no sight. There's only President Barack Obama or Mitt Romney.
I must admit that there was a time in 2008 that I thought Obama could have been a superhero, but I was wrong. We have seen his campaign theme morph in four years from "Yes We Can" to "It Could Be Worse."
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Click HERE to watch Dean Obeidallah on CNN discussing this article.
(CNN) When I was growing up, my friends and I all wanted to be cool -- like Al Pacino, Robert De Niro or, of course, the king of cool at the time: Fonzie. (I should note that I grew up in an Italian neighborhood.)
Being "cool" was a good thing.
Today it appears that being "cool" could be a bad thing, at least if you are running for president of the United States.
That theory surfaced in an ad from a Republican super PAC headed by Karl Rove.
The super PAC American Crossroads argues in its campaign ad that Barack Obama is "too cool" to be president. The attack ad shows President Obama "slow jamming" the news on Jimmy Fallon's NBC late-night talk show, singing an Al Green song and chugging a beer. (Obama drinking a beer must confuse those Republicans who still think he is a Muslim.)
Sure, Obama can sing, spar with late-night comedians and charm talk-show hosts. Still I am not so sure I would classify him as being "too cool." To me, Obama is more of a mix of cool and nerdy -- sort of a cross between Denzel Washington and Harry Potter. Obama may have soul, but he likely also has "Star Wars" toys.
To continue reading this article please click HERE to go to CNN.com.